OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; the words which the Prime Minister uses aren’t in any of those horrid foreign languages, they’re generally in English. But that doesn’t make them any more comprehensible; there are times when she might just as well be speaking in tongues.
At the very beginning, we had the now well-worn “Brexit means Brexit”, followed by the idea of a “red, white, and blue Brexit”. They didn’t mean anything at the time, and their lack of meaning is as unmistakeable now as it was then. Two weeks ago, we had the mantra “now is not the time” repeated robotically in response to any and every question about a second Scottish independence referendum, and this week, we had another meaningless utterance claiming that the UK is “one of the greatest forces for good in the world today” and referring to it as an “unstoppable force”. Am I alone in wondering what she and her speechwriter are taking?
Best leave aside the utter confusion and uncertainty in her use of the terms ‘nation’ and ‘country’; sometimes it’s the component parts of the UK whilst at others it’s the whole; and this doesn’t just change from day to day, it’s inconsistent even in the same speech. There is one thing, though, on which she is clear and consistent, and that is that she will brook no dissent over Brexit She imperiously demands that everyone else should follow her example and start proclaiming that the earth is in fact flat, despite what they might have believed a few short months ago. She might have felt (or at least she said she did) only ten months ago that Brexit was a silly idea, but with the zeal of the convert she now insists that it’s altogether a splendid idea and that anyone who disagrees is both unpatriotic and disloyal.
We’ve had similar sentiments expressed by her branch officer in Cardiff this week, who said that reports from experts setting out some of the problems were ‘tiresome’, and more-or-less suggested that the experts really should try harder to produce reports supporting Brexit instead of undermining it. Both of them are only interested in hearing from those who support their position, and want everyone else to shut up and go away. Of course, no one can force them to listen to dissenting voices; if they prefer to heed the promises of alchemists rather than listen to the advice of proper chemists, that’s a matter for them. But the attempt to dismiss or even silence opposing opinions, using a referendum victory as some sort of trump card against facts that they don’t like, is a tendency which should worry us.
When the empress parades naked, the duty of good citizens is not to marvel at the splendour of the outfit but to draw attention to its complete absence. And, to mix the metaphors, if a force which foolishly believes itself to be unstoppable is headed directly towards an immovable object, devising fallacious arguments about why it really isn’t unmoveable rather than telling the truth isn’t the most helpful or friendly response, even if it’s the one they want.